János Esterházy, a leader of Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian community between the two world wars, represented the cause of survival of the Hungarian nation and the notion that every nation has the right to exist, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said on Sunday.
Addressing the commemoration and the presentation of the Esterházy Award granted by the Rákoczi Alliance in Parliament, Semjén said Esterházy had been a politician who represented “the common faith of the Slovak and the Hungarian nation”. He symbolised and proved that Christianity and the Hungarian nation “were a reality pointing towards one another”, Semjén said. Semjén praised Esterházy for his courage to speak his credo: “We know only one cross: that of the Golgotha.” “Let his credo and martyrdom” light the path of the Hungarian nation and central Europe, he added.
The Esterházy Award was presented to Antal Majnek, a Roman catholic bishop of Mukachevo (Munkács) in recognition of his work in serving Hungarians and all other people in Trancarpathia. In his laudation, János Árpád Potápi, the state secretary in charge of policies for Hungarian communities abroad, said Majnek had an “imprescriptible role” in rebuilding the Hungarian Roman catholic church in Transcarpathia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and he praised the awardee for his charitable and social work.
Count Esterházy (1901-1957), the sole Hungarian deputy in the Slovak Parliament before 1945, was an advocate of the ethnic Hungarian community who stood up to any violation of minority rights and discrimination. After the second world war, the Czechoslovak authorities handed him over to the Soviet Union and he was sent to the Gulag on trumped-up charges. He was sentenced to death in 1947 for collaborating with the fascists but was pardoned by the president and handed a life sentence, which was commuted to twenty-five years in prison during a general amnesty. He died in a prison in Mirov in March 1957.